US 20060200403 A1
A method is disclosed for managing the trade of at least one offered item by at least one item offeror for at least one wanted item of at least one item acceptor. First, the method of managing item trades includes the step of establishing for the one item acceptor and the one item offerer a database for storing information identifying each item held respectively by the one item offerer and the one item acceptor. Next, the item acceptor is facilitated to provide an acceptance message of trading the offered item of the item offerer for the wanted item of the item acceptor. The method responds to the acceptance message to access the database of the item acceptor to determine whether the item acceptor has the wanted item in its database and to access the database of the item offerer to determine whether the item offerer has the offered item in its database. If the item acceptor and the item offerer have respectfully their wanted item and their offered item, then the trade may continue to completion, i.e., the item offerer receives the wanted item and the item acceptor receives the offered item.
1. A method of managing the trade of at least one offered item by at least one item offeror for at least one wanted item of at least one item acceptor, said method of managing comprising the steps of:
a. establishing for the one item acceptor and the one item offeror a database for storing information identifying each item held respectively by the one item offeror and the one item acceptor;
b. facilitating the item acceptor to provide an acceptance message of trading the offered item of the item offeror for the wanted item of the item acceptor,
c. responding to the acceptance message of the item acceptor to access the database of the item acceptor to determine whether the item acceptor has the wanted item in its database and to access the database of the items offeror to determine whether the item offeror has the offered item in its database, and
d. determining whether the item acceptor and the item offer have respectively their wanted item and offered item, if so the trade continues to completion and, if not, the trade is terminated.
This application relates to U.S. Non-Provisional patent application Ser. No. 09/488,107 entitled “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR OFFERING FOR SALE COLLECTIBLES ON PRIMARY AND SECONDARY MARKETS” and to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/657,336 entitled “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DISTRIBUTING ITEMS”, which are incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates to the distribution of items by trading a first set of one or more items for a second set of one or more items. In an illustrious embodiment of this invention, the items may take the form of trading cards and, in particular, those cards bearing the images of athletes. Further, the items may also include other kinds of collectibles and may include the exchange or trading of different kinds of items. This invention also relates to the trading of one item for another, as opposed to purchasing an item for a set amount of money.
The Internet comprises a vast number of computers and computer networks that are interconnected through communication links. The interconnected computers exchange information using various services, such as electronic mail, Gopher, and the World Wide Web (“WWW”). The WWW service allows a server computer system (i.e., Web server or Web site) to send graphical Web pages of information to a remote computer system. The remote computer system can then display the Web pages. Each resource (e.g., computer or Web page) of the WWW is uniquely identifiable by a Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”). To view a specific Web page, a item distribution computer system specifies the URL for that Web page in a request (e.g., a HyperText Transfer Protocol (“HTTP”) request). The request is forwarded to the Web server that supports that Web page. When the Web server receives the request, it sends that Web page to the computer system. When the computer system receives that Web page, it typically displays the Web page using a browser. A browser is a special-purpose application program that effects the requesting of Web pages and the displaying of Web pages.
Currently, Web pages are typically defined using HyperText Markup Language (“HTML”). HTML provides a standard set of tags that define how a Web page is to be displayed. When a user indicates to the browser to display a Web page, the browser sends a request to the server computer system to transfer to the computer system an HTML document that defines the Web page. When the requested HTML document is received by the computer system, the browser displays the Web page as defined by the HTML document. The HTML document contains various tags that control the displaying of text, graphics, controls, and other features. The HTML document may contain URLs of other Web pages available on that server computer system or other server computer systems.
The World Wide Web is especially conducive to conducting electronic commerce. Web Servers have been programmed to permit vendors to provide a wide array of products and services for sale over the Internet. A user, who is a potential item distributor, purchaser or trader, may browse one or more web sites, which provide lists of products or services for sale, much like a catalogue. A user may preview these lists to select a desired product or services to be purchased. When the user has completed selecting the items to be purchased, the server computer system then prompts the user to enter information to complete the ordering of the selected items. This system generally determines how and where the selected items may be delivered to the item distribution and how the user will pay for the selected items.
There are dozens of different buyer-seller protocols in use today. However, almost all of those systems are seller-driven in the sense that they focus on the methods and processes available to the seller, allowing him/her to price, package or configure goods and services more effectively. Stores, catalogs, classified advertisements, telemarketing, offering for sale houses, even on-line computerized reservation systems such as SABRE, are all seller-driven. Traditionally, it is the seller's job to attract buyers and then to complete the sale. Thus, in a seller-driven system, the advertising cost of the transaction and the attendant risks that such advertising will be unsuccessful falls upon the seller.
Most goods and services purchased at retail are done so using a general seller-driven protocol whereby the seller sets a price and the buyer decides whether or not to accept that price. Prices for some services, such as airline tickets, might change frequently, but the buyer must still wait for the seller to offer a price he finds acceptable. Obviously, some forms of commerce offer far more give and take with offers and counteroffers being exchanged, however the vast majority of retail purchases utilize seller-driven, fixed-price, non-negotiable pricing protocols.
Auctions are probably the most frequently used system whereby prices are not fixed by the seller. Here too, the system is seller-driven. The buyer does not find the seller, rather the seller attracts numerous buyers who, as a group, determine the final selling price—which the seller may subsequently reject unless the item offered for sale is being purchased without a reserve.
Even on-line reservation systems are seller-driven. Airline reservation systems such as SABRE are in the business of constantly posting airfares. Travel agents and consumers are on the order for side of the process. However, since they cannot communicate their orders to the airlines, they must wait until an “asked” fare is quoted which meets their needs.
Other commerce systems are exchange-driven. These systems, such as NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), match buyers and sellers by offering an efficient, fair and orderly marketplace. They favor neither buyers nor sellers, but simply effectuate communications that allow for the matching process to take place. An example of an automated exchange-driven commerce system for trading futures is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,903,201.
U.S. Non-Provisional application Ser. No. 09/488,107 contemplates that collectibles and, in particular, the athlete trading cards may be exchanged over the Internet. For example, if you believe that Derek Jeter will become the best shortstop of all time, then the user would want to obtain a number of his cards. Presently, athletic trading cards are purchased on the primary market in packs. A pack includes a number of cards, each of which is different from the others. Each pack is typically wrapped so that the item distribution can not tell what cards are in a particular pack. If the potential purchaser would seek to obtain a number of Derek Jeter cards, he/she would need to purchase a number of packs and, even then, would not be assured of finding any Derek Jeter cards. The item distribution could also go to a secondary market and start buying Derek Jeter cards. Even in the secondary market, e.g., stores or web sites that specialize in the sale of trading cards, the investor is only likely to secure one Derek Jeter card at a time. In accordance with this invention, lots of single desired cards will be efficiently offered for sale to the item distribution.
Even if alternative mediums exist to purchase lots of trading cards at one time at prices that are not seller driven, the cards are then usually immediately physically delivered to the purchaser. For users to then trade or sell them to other users via electronic mediums, they face barriers of trust as to whether they really own them and whether the condition is as advertised. Moreover, no forum exists to trade their trading cards for other different collectibles or items, such as coins. This Non-Provisional patent application, Ser. No. 09/488,107 contemplates that manufacturers/issuers (or administrators whom they have partnered with) (i) retaining trading cards or other collectibles they sell in personal accounts they maintain for their customers, while reserving their condition (ii) hosting an online trading platform in which customers can post and execute possible trades of items and collectibles (even of a different type) held by the manufacturers/issuers/administrators (knowing their condition and existence is guaranteed) and (iii) transferring the traded items/collectibles to the respective traders' accounts.
This invention differs from those trading systems described above, wherein one or more collectibles are sold for a set amount of money. In contrast, this invention relates to trading one item for another. Though not limited to the disclosed embodiments of this application, the traded items can take the form of trading cards and, in particular, athlete trading cards. A significant problem that occurs when one item is traded for the other, is that one or more of the parties to the transaction may not actually have the item that is to be traded. The invention described below in one aspect thereof is able to check whether or not the participants in such a trade actually have the item sought to be traded.
In accordance with the above and other objects of this invention, there is disclosed a method for managing the trade of at least one offered item by at least one item offeror for at least one wanted item of at least one item acceptor. First, the method of managing item trades includes the step of establishing for the one item acceptor and the one item offerer a database for storing information identifying each item held respectively by the one item offerer and the one item acceptor. Next, the item acceptor is facilitated to provide an acceptance message of trading the offered item of the item offerer for the wanted item of the item acceptor. The method responds to the acceptance message to access the database of the item acceptor to determine whether the item acceptor has the wanted item in its database and to access the database of the item offerer to determine whether the item offerer has the offered item in its database. If the item acceptor and the item offerer have respectfully their wanted item and their offered item, then the trade may continue to completion, i.e., the item offerer receives the wanted item and the item acceptor receives the offered item.
The forgoing objects and advantages of the present invention may be more readily understood by one skilled in the art with reference being had to the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like elements are designated by identical reference numerals throughout the several views, and in which:
Referring now to the drawings and in particular to
The server system 22 comprises, as shown in
The server system 22 is front ended, as described above, in that an item distribution can access the system 22 by sending requests from the browser 12 via the communication link 20 to the server system 22, while data in the form of images of the different collectibles 40, as shown in
Referring now to
Still referring to
Referring now to
Referring now to
After user's account has been set up in steps 110 and 111, step 112 downloads the webpage 24 a from the database 25 via the link 20 to the terminal 11 which originated the order. At this terminal 11, the downloaded webpage 24 a is presented on the display 16. In step 114, the user selects one of the cards 40 a, b or c to order and clicks on the button 42 corresponding to the desired card 40, e.g., the user actuates button 42 b to order the Derek Jeter card 40 b. Step 114 also prompts the user to enter the amount of his/her order on the data input device 18. Step 114 then enters data that identifies the selected card 42 and the amount of the order into the user's account that was established in step 110. Next step 116 checks the user history database 28 to determine whether the current user holds escrowed cards 40 and, if so, offers the primary user the opportunity to trade the escrowed cards 40 as will be explained below in greater detail with respect to
If step 102 of
Further, these notices also inform the users of their options to have the awarded cards 40 sent to them or, at their choice, to escrow the purchased cards 40 with the purchasing administrator or another escrow agent. If the user elects in step 128 to take delivery of the cards 40, the cards 40 will be forwarded in step 130, for example, in a case with an authentication sticker adhered to the case. Further, step 130 may update the user history database 28 that the cards 40 have been delivered to the user. The case will be tamper-evident (not necessarily tamper proof) to provide an indication of whether or not the cards 40 had been handled and thus a possible indication of their condition. As is well known to trading card users, the value of a trading card 40 is highly dependent on its condition. If it was apparent that the case was still in tact, then there is a strong indication that the cards 40 are in “mint” condition and, therefore, can command a premium price.
If the user elects to have the cards 40 escrowed, step 132 takes the appropriate steps to place the purchased cards in escrow. In particular, step 132 updates the user history database 28 and, in particular, enters to that user's account the number of cards 40 held in escrow. Further information, such as the purchase price of the escrowed cards 40, may also be entered in the database 28. The escrowed cards 40 are stored in a benign environment to protect the condition of the cards or items. If the offering sale administrator holds the cards 40, the administrator will be able to “guarantee” the condition of the items or cards 40. The ability to guarantee the card condition would provide a significant benefit to offering for sale the items or cards 40 over the Internet. By comparison, some well-known purchasing administrators merely act a broker between a buyer and a seller, and normally will not take responsibility for the transaction, much less the condition of the purchased items. Thus after the items or cards 40 have appreciated over a period of time, the offering sale administrator can still guarantee the condition of the escrowed cards 40, and the user who now seeks to sell the appreciated cards or items 40 as well as potential new users can have reasonable confidence in the card condition, as well as the administrator's guarantee.
Referring now to
The escrowing feature of this invention is of particular importance to the user as he/she attempts to sell or distribute his/her items or collectibles. If the purchasing administrator is its self the manufacturer/issuer or has received the items or cards 40 directly from their manufacturer or issuer and has escrowed without delay the cards to be distributed, the purchasing administrator can guarantee the condition of these cards 40 since they have continuously been under the control of the administrator (or previously the manufacturer/issuer if partnering with the manufacturer/issuer), and the new owner is assured of the condition of the card 40 that he/she will be acquiring.
In the above, there has been described the item distribution system 10, wherein items in the form of collectibles and, in particular, cards 40 bearing the images of professional athletes are auctioned in a manner that resembles an initial placement offering (IPO). Referring now to
The parties to the trade have a particular role as reflected by the name of these users 206 a and 206 b. In particular, the item offerer 206 a constructs an offer in terms of an item 40′ that the item offerer 206 a would like to acquire and one or more items 40″ that the item offerer 206 a owns and would be willing to trade for the wanted item 40′. As will be explained below, the process of the trade between the item offerer 206 a and the item acceptor 206 b is carried out by the item distribution system 10, as shown in
Referring now to
After the item offerer 206 a has selected its wanted card 40′, the trade completion process 220 moves to step 226, wherein the item offerer 206 a selects that period of time in which the offer constructed by the item offerer 206 a may be accepted by the item acceptor 206 b. In an illustrative embodiment of this invention, the selected offer period may be set at 3 or 5 days to prevent “stale” trade offers. Next in step 228, the item offerer 206 a is enabled to complete the construction of its offer. In step 224, the wanted card 40′ was selected by the item offerer 206 a. Now, in step 228, a screen 260 as shown in
After the item offerer 206 a has finished constructing its offer, an illustrative embodiment of this invention is witnessed in step 230 of
Next, if step 230 determines that the total value of the offered cards 40″ is within the maximum and minimum limits, the process 220 moves to step 232, wherein the item offerer 206 a decides whether or not to add further offered cards 40″ to the proposed trade. If the item offerer 206 a has decided to enter more offered cards 40″, the process 220 returns to step 228, wherein new offered cards 40″ may be entered or removed as explained above. On the other hand, if step 232 determines that the item offerer 206 a does not want to change the present trade or offer, the process 220 moves to step 234 wherein the offer constructed by the item offerer 206 a is posted and is available to the item acceptors 206 b to inspect. Next, step 236 queries whether or not an item offerer 206 a wishes to construct another offer of the offered cards 40″ for the card 40′. If not, the process 220 ends in step 238. On the other hand, if the item offerer 206 a decides to construct another trade offer, the process 220 moves to step 240, wherein it is determined whether the item offerer 206 a has constructed more than a permissible maximum number of offers. In an illustrative embodiment of this invention, the maximum limit of the number of offers that an item offerer 206A may make is set at five.
Referring now to
Next, the trade completion process 300 moves to step 304 where the item acceptor 206 b selects a wanted card 40′ as displayed under heading 342 d. Here, a screen 360 as shown in
The process 300 then moves to step 314, wherein the five steps of the trade completion are effected. First, step 1 determines whether or not the item acceptor 206 b still possesses the wanted card 40′ in its account maintained by the administrator, and the item offerer 206 a still possesses the offered card(s) 40″ in its account maintained by the administrator. Such checking of the accounts of the item offerer 206 a and the item acceptor 206 b ensures that the offerer 206 a and acceptor 206 b do in fact have the required number of items and that any risk of future defaults in connection with the trade is eliminated. If so, step 2 transfers the wanted card 40′ from the account of the item acceptor 206 b to the account of the item offerer 206 a, and the offered cards 40″ from the account of the item offerer 206 a to the account of the item acceptor 206 b. As disclosed above, each of the item offerer 206 a and item acceptor 206 b has an account with holdings that are maintained in escrow by the administrator as shown in
Although the present invention has been described in terms of various embodiments, it is not intended that the invention be limited to these embodiments. Modification within the spirit of the inventions will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, though the items of a 10 preferred embodiment of this invention are described as trading cards and, in particular, trading cards bearing data and the images of athletes, a wide range of collectibles may be so offered for sale without departing from the teachings of this invention. Further, it is contemplated that items may be traded for each other and that the items may be different from each other. For example, some items may be collectibles and other items not. Though a preferred embodiment of this invention is implemented as a web site on the Internet, this invention may be implemented on other communication systems, e.g., telephone lines and other wide area and local area networks, within the scope of this invention. It will be appreciated that though the processing of this invention has been programmed in accordance with the attached flowcharts, it would be apparent to one skilled in the computer programming arts, that other programs may be substituted for the attached flowcharts without departing from the teachings of this invention. Though the offering for sale of the primary market as taught herein may be carried out in the broadest aspects of this invention at any time, it is contemplated within the scope of this invention that the primary offering for sale may be carried out on the occurrence of special events, e.g., a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, an athlete breaking a record, the trade of an athlete from one team to another, and the drafting by a professional athletic team of a promising young player. Any of these events could trigger the issuance of a new trading card and its Initial Player Offering for sale on the primary market. Further, in order to carry out the secondary trading system described in this invention, the Initial Player Offering mechanism is not necessary as a means of initially distributing the cards or items into customers' accounts. Any primary market distribution system should suffice, provided the condition of the items/collectibles is preserved and the items/collectibles are held in accounts maintained by the administrator from the outset. The scope of the present invention is defined by the claim that follows.